Borussia Dortmund made easy work of Bayern Munich on Wednesday, and their Bundesliga rivals will have taken note.
After starting slowly, the DFL Supercup hosts spent much of the contest well on top of their famous guests and, thanks to impressive goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, went on to claim the first piece of silverware on offer this season.
As a one-off victory over a despised opponent, it was a meaningful, satisfying result. But the 2-0 win was packed with significance—and little of it encouraging for Bayern.
After starting brightly and nearly opening the scoring through Xherdan Shaqiri, the reigning champions were put on the back foot until David Alaba's late chance from a free-kick.
Crucially, they also lost the versatile Javi Martinez to injury inside the opening half hour—a blow that will add to an already sizeable group of sidelined players.
With Rafinha, Thiago and Franck Ribery recovering from various ailments, Bayern manager Pep Guardiola was forced to bring in the likes of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Sebastian Rode and Gianluca Gaudino for the Dortmund showdown.
All three could well make a contribution to the squad at some point during the campaign, but none is currently in Guardiola's first-team plans.
The thing is that so many of the Spaniard's preferred players are either injured or short of fitness following the World Cup, and with the Bundesliga curtain-raiser against Wolfsburg just 10 days away, he may well have to rely on the fringes of the squad a bit more than he would have preferred.
"We have a lot of players that have been training for only a short period," confirmed captain Philipp Lahm following the match, according to Goal.com's Alec Fenn. "We are in the middle of the pre-season."
Incidentally, Bayern have never won the Bundesliga in the season following a successful World Cup for Germany. It's a straightforward correlation. By supplying so many internationals to Die Mannschaft, it follows that Bayern aren't able to hit the ground running in the months following a World Cup triumph.
As far as the current campaign is concerned, key players including Thomas Muller, Mario Gotze, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Jerome Boateng and Lahm himself are only just getting back in the rhythm, and Arjen Robben—whose Netherlands team finished third in Brazil—has also just returned to the squad.
Then there is the satisfaction of a major success—something that often contributes to a lack of incentive and impetus in the short term.
It all adds up to a tricky set of circumstances for Bayern and increased motivation for their opponents.
Dortmund, for one, have managed to bolster their squad despite the loss of striker Robert Lewandowski, with Adrian Ramos and Ciro Immobile arriving during the summer.
Schalke, too, have strengthened with the acquisitions of Sidney Sam, Dennis Aogo and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.
Wolfsburg will also have their eye on the top places, and Bayer Leverkusen will be looking to build on last season's fourth-place finish.
Assuming Bayern make a slow start, there will be an opportunity for one or more of their rivals to mount a serious title challenge—the sort of opportunity that doesn't come around all that much.
Dortmund have already made the champions look ordinary, and the rest of the Bundesliga will have no doubt looked on in glee.
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